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Survey: Some members still hesitant to return to gyms despite reopening in June


NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH)– Gyms across the state have been open since mid-June but there are some members still hesitant to go back inside to work out.

A recent survey found more than a third of the people asked have canceled their memberships.

Pam Waesche says she tries to walk at least four times a week. On Wednesday, she was at Ocean Beach Park in New London. She hasn’t been back to her gym in months.

“Not since the pandemic,” said Waesche.

“We like to try it mainly for the exercise, but yeah the gym we haven’t been to gosh how long?” Karen Rowland asked Hank Phillips, who was walking with her along the boardwalk at Ocean Beach.

“The gym, it was probably in February,” he answered.

A recent survey by online athletic footwear retailer found 37% of respondents canceled their memberships and 49% were considering it.

“Yeah, I’m concerned,” said Waesche. “I won’t go back until things are much better. Probably until there’s a vaccine.”

At Ocean Beach, there is an independently owned gym right there but we’re told it never reopened during the pandemic. 

Even though gyms in Connecticut were allowed to reopen in mid June, says only one in 10 members actually visited their gym since then, making that the lowest rate of return of any state.

“Our usage is actually comparable to what it was last year at this time,” said Mike Shapiro, VP of Connecticut Operations for Planet Fitness.

Planet Fitness has implemented several new safety protocols like spacing equipment six feet apart and adding hand sanitizing stations and CDC recommended disinfectants. 

“We ask members to please help us out,” said Shapiro. “Wipe down your machine before you use it and after you use it.”

Safety measures they say reduce the chance of contracting the coronavirus to less than one percent, and which they hope will help members feel more comfortable coming back. Still some are hesitant.

“I don’t intend to go back until there’s a cure for this,” said Phillips, of Uncasville.

Others have found alternative ways to work out.

“We walk at Harkness, we see people doing the hula hoop,” said Mike Fenton, of Waterford. “I haven’t seen anyone do the hula hoop since I was ten years old.”

Gyms hope more members return when the weather starts to get colder. 

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